Gearing up for Derby Day
Outside of either team securing a home final, the derbies are arguably the two biggest matches of the home and away season for West Australians. With no love lost between the two clubs, you can always guarantee there is an extra layer of spice attached to these games. In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter where either team sits on the ladder, when the ball is bounced during a derby all bets are off.
As it currently the stands, the Western Derby ledger sits at 28-20 in favour of the Eagles. While it’s only round four, Saturday’s game is sure to tell us a lot, with the Eagles and Dockers both heading into the game with two wins under their belt.
After a disappointing round one loss to the Lions at the Gabba, last year’s reigning premiers have turned their season around with a 52-point victory against the Giants at home, followed by an impressive win against the Pies at the MCG in round three.
The Dockers are currently sitting in third place on the ladder, having had one of their best starts to the season since 2015. They enjoyed an emphatic victory over North Melbourne in round one, followed by a nail-biting three-point defeat to the Suns on the Gold Coast, and claimed a five-point win against St Kilda in a thriller on their home turf in round three.
Both team’s lists are looking relatively healthy too.
The Eagles line-up was bolstered last week by the return of Andrew Gaff and Jamie Cripps who wasted no time in getting back to their best form. They also appear to have unearthed some exciting new talent, with young forward Oscar Allen adding another dimension to the 2019 premiers’ already dangerous forward line and speedster Jack Petruccelli injecting some explosive pace into the midfield.
Similarly, there is a lot to like about the new-look Fremantle in 2019. Ross Lyon appears to have found a solution to the team’s well-documented scoring woes, with the resurgence of Cam McCarthy and off-season recruits Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb providing the Dockers with some exciting new avenues to goal. Fan favourites Brad Hill, Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters have also been in solid form this season.
However, Freo will be without captain Nat Fyfe, with the Brownlow medallist ruled following a sickening head clash with opposition player Josh Battle.
So what will Western Derby 49 bring? Have both teams moved on from last year’s infamous and controversial Andrew Gaff/Andrew Brayshaw incident? Can the Eagles extend their derby streak? Are the 2019 Fremantle Dockers the real deal? Only time will tell.
One thing’s for sure, with both teams up and about, there will be no hiding from football in WA this week. Those attending Optus Stadium to watch the derby are in for a treat and will get to enjoy watching the game under lights - a nice change of pace from the traditional afternoon timeslots favoured in recent years.
If you’re headed to the game on Saturday and looking to purchase some merchandise, there are no shortage of options at Optus Stadium before the game, or you can head to the AFL Store on Hay Street in the CBD during the week.